Saturday, January 27, 2007


I was moping a bit last night and succumbed to the dreaded capitalist elixir: SHOPPING! And, for a few moments the depression disappeared. But only for a few moments.

My moods are very tied to what is going on around me and the whole resurgence of violence in Lebanon has really gotten to me. Inside my active right brain, I was having these intense flashes that history was repeating itself and as one of my friends said: "It was 1975, all over again." Of the university students who were fighting each other this week, I replayed the statement, "We older adults taught them this." Another friend of mine commented in an e-mail, "I do not know how they will be able to go back into the classroom together." As an educator, this statement struck my every nerve, "How were they?"

I started doing what I always do: I tried to figure out how to address these classroom dynamics. I daydreamed about peacebuilding programs and even did some websurfing regarding possible programs. But, my rational interior voice soon surfaced to remind me that the students were only mirroring the larger problems that Lebanon has. A few classroom activities or even an entire program on peacebuilding is not the answer. In my layperson and non-Lebanese citizen perspective, the problem has to do with the sectarian political system and with the fact that the concerns of the neediest Lebanese are not being addressed within this system.

$7.6 million is all well and good, but a good portion of this money is in loans not donations. Plus, the largest portion of this money was lent by the World Bank who along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is famous for its structural adjustment policies that often do more harm to the majority of the people of the country that it "assists" than good. It requires countries to create reform packages like the one that the Lebanese government created that often include tax programs that have a harsher effect on the poor than on the rich, privatization of basic services, and limitations on social spending. If I had seen these reform packages benefit other countries, I would not be so depressed.

Talking to my father this morning, I was reminded that I like to fix and change things for the better. A big part of what I do with youth is help them realize that they can make a difference in their world through their personal relationships but also on the state and national levels. I live my own life the same way. When I see an injustice, I talk about it, write about it, get in touch with my political representatives and tell them about it. This summer, when Lebanon was attacked by Israel, I even had things I could do. The United States was supporting Israel. I spoke out against this and encouraged others to do so as well.

This time, I do not know what to do. I feel stuck, paralysed. I don't have anything, even something small, that I can do. And, I feel awful.


Lingual X said...

This is really tough; I'm with you in that I invest my hopes in education and the classroom. That seems to me to be the space (whether a traditional or non-traditional setting) where we can really begin to change the world. However, I can't imagine the paralysis you feel watching the news coming out of Lebanon.

However, as someone who has no ties to the Middle East, and like many others, who understands much of what goes on in the Middle East through the news and what other people write, I believe you are doing an amazing thing by writing. Your voice is a powerful site for alternative information. You are informing your regular readers--and people who happen to stop by. I know it probably feels like you're writing whilst staring at the wall, but those words, once they leave your keyboard and head into cyberspace really, really do make a difference.

Margaret said...

Writing is keeping me sane.